Kitchens-A taste of what's to come [identity (United Arab Emirates)]
(identity (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Every room in the home now must conjure up added emotive punch.
In the kitchen the move front and centre in open- plan arrangements has prompted designs that closely follow trends in the rest of the home.
Hence, the kitchen is not immune to the want of high sensation, a direction highlighted at furnishings fairs throughout Europe earlier this year.
Complex plays of texture and finish, bold swathes of colour and ever-more sophisticated appliances deliver the emotional trigger owners crave these days.
The kitchen is morphing into a multi- sensory experience that connects seamlessly to the surrounding living space while continuing to deliver functionality.
In fact, kitchen appliance makers have been working overtime in recent years to bring their products up to snuff and move them beyond their strict utilitarian functions.
The innovations being dreamed up were unthinkable a decade ago and what is likely to come in the near future will break even more boundaries.
SHAPE OF THE FUTURE
Electolux's annual Design Lab competition offers a peek at tomorrow's kitchen.
Each year it selects a theme for young designers to explore, and this year's refrain "Stimulate the Senses" perfectly captures the zeitgeist sweeping interior design.
"As we celebrate the 10th year anniversary of Electrolux Design Lab, we wanted to give the students a brief that challenged them to create holistic sensorial experiences," says Henrik Otto, vice-president of design at Electrolux.
"The 10 concepts that have reached the Design Lab 2012 finals are an overview of the kind of creative design thinking that surprises and challenges us and creates discussion about the future."
This year's 10 semi-finalists were charged with dreaming up appliances designed to engage the senses in new and interesting ways.
Consider Aeroball, a mind-bending air-cleaning and filtration concept conceived by Polish student Jan Ankiersztajn that lets tiny bubbles, which can be scented, float and hover in the air all the while cleaning.
Inspired by nature, the glowing shell of the sphere absorbs light during the day and radiates at night, a delicate indoor firefly always working to improve the air that is breathed.
ICE is an interactive lighting system designed by Spaniard Julen Pejenaute.
It serves not only as a basic lamp with adjustable brightness or colour to fit the mood of any dining occasion; its "Experience" mode adds interactive backgrounds that react to movement and create a dynamic link between objects on the table.
When placed above any cooking or dining area ICE can scan its surroundings and ingredients to assist the user in creating the best menu options.
Even the Treat (short for Tree+Eat), a clever food storage concept by Australian Amy Mon-Chu Liu, adds a new layer of interactivity.
It seamlessly combines classic food storage techniques, such as vacuum sealing, with modern remote, mobile technology for the perfect combination of freshness and convenience.
The design, a minimalist tree with fruit-like orbs dangling from its branches, features an intuitive way of communicating and warns when food is expiring by firstly changing colour as the food ages and finally dropping from the tree when it has expired.
You can even access the Treat with a mobile app and tell it to preheat your meal before you get home.
While the Design Lab concepts may seem a long way from today's dinner table, the ideas being toyed with and especially that of a multi-sensorial experience, have proven a driving force in recent kitchen products and designs.
Spa and bathroom designs are already pushing the envelope, introducing technologies that do more than just pamper the soul.
New products are just beginning to explore how vibrations and frequencies, in addition to sound and colour therapies, and deeply immersive, multi-sensory experiences (via special seating or resting pods) can improve wellness and propel one into a state of deep relaxation.
In the kitchen, products are being designed to deliver a stronger aesthetic but also to help people enjoy life and revel in cooking.
With appliances, new advances have allowed manufacturers to change the profiles of their latest products, making the visual appeal more sophisticated but not scrimping on functionality.
An example of the merging of design and technology is visible in the hybrid Cross Island, a new kitchen by Ludovica+Roberto Palomba for Elmar.
An elegant version of a trestle table, the slim and light design creates an airy atmosphere, yet it is the steel top with an integrated hob and sink that shines.
"For us the kitchen is always a room to work in," the designers say.
"We have given this island an innovative trestle shape to emphasise the idea of the cook working like an artisan."
A new freedom is being introduced as well.
Gaggenau introduced one of the first full-surface, or "zoneless", induction cooktops last year with the sleek CX480, giving chefs the freedom to place a pot anywhere on the surface, as the cooktop senses where it is.
Likewise, Thermador, Siemens and Bosch have all come to market with full-surface induction cooktops - and most of these new lines feature a "boost" function that fires up the power temporarily by 50 per cent when needed.
From Britain's Caple, comes a new lift oven, Sense C5100, which not only looks incredibly chic but is the epitome of intelligent thinking in kitchen design.
For those who prefer not to have appliances take up all wall space, Caple is ideal as its lift oven rises smoothly from its flush position on a worktop at the press of a button.
A look at Electrolux's just premiered Grand Cuisine collection features a number of high-tech, high-performance, ultra-luxurious gizmos for the "pro" home chef.
The new range includes nine products: a combination oven, blast chiller, induction zone, precision vacuum sealer, gas hob, sear hob, surround induction zone, stand mixer and bespoke ventilation systems
"We chose materials and finishes that you would find in a professional context, such as stainless steel and glass, but with a high-end, refined sense of design," notes Otto, design director of the sophisticated series.
However, looks are far from the only thing Grand Cuisine features as it introduces a whole new way of cooking and storing food.
For instance, the blast chiller can conjure up a range of desserts in minutes and will not allow large ice crystals to form on food, thus protecting taste and texture.
More importantly perhaps, at least to oenophiles, it can blast chill 10 bottles of champagne to the perfect 8 °C in just 30 minutes.
The surround induction zone, a concave, single-pan cooktop, evenly disburses heat around the sides of a rounded pot (think of the traditional wok shape).
The burner is ideal for stir-frying but can also be used for steaming, deep-frying, poaching, boiling, searing, stewing or even making soup.
One more piece in the collection also deserves mention - the sear hob, which takes its inspiration directly from professional kitchens.
The chrome-plated stainless steel surface rapidly heats up to an even temperature so you can place whatever you're cooking directly onto the heat.
There's no mixing of flavours - you can sear seafood alongside meat - and that polished shine means food won't stick.
From Italy's Bertazzoni comes the Segmented cooktop, which, for the first time, combines the power of gas, electric griddle and induction cooking in one place.
Adding more brains to kitchen appliances is just the beginning and many appliances are trying to make light work of the day-to-day chores homeowners face.
Manufacturers are experimenting with increasing the kitchen's intelligence levels (via apps that let you control them from a smartphone) and improving ease of cleaning and efficiency.
LG's recent introductions at consumer electronics shows illustrate the company's dedication to its Smart ThinQ technology.
Most promising is the refrigerator, which sports an LCD that indicates what food is in the refrigerator, where it's located and when it expires - information that can be accessed from a smartphone as well.
The new lines are also Smart Grid-ready, meaning that once local utility companies begin offering Smart Grid-compatible, differentiated energy-rate time slots, consumers can readjust their function settings to take advantage of optimum energy rates every day.
"Today's mobile devices are aiding mainstream adoption of connected home technology," says Susan Cashen, senior vice-president of marketing for Control4, a developer of smart home systems.
"Consumers want to be able to monitor and control everything in their home anywhere, at any time."
Control4, Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances have created a partnership allowing their brands to be integrated into smart home technologies.
The new system's functions include notifications of oven pre-heat and timer completion, current oven temperature and knowing when meals are finished cooking based on the internal temperature probe's reading.
System alerts for the refrigerator can notify homeowners when the fridge door has been left open, and the system can also maximise energy efficiency by lowering the refrigerator's power consumption at different times of day.
Smart technology is now being adopted everywhere.
Samsung just introduced the Wi-Fi enabled WF457 washer and dryer, which makes laundry "smarter" and less time-consuming by allowing users to start, stop and pause the machine from their smartphone, and reduces the normal cycle time by up to 15 minutes.
From Siemens comes the new iDos washing machine, which automatically doses detergent and fabric softener according to load size and soiling, using less water and energy, time and money.
As more people continue to adopt open-plan kitchens, being able to hide some of the mess while entertaining can prove challenging, so even the sink area is being reconsidered.
Blanco recently introduced the stainless steel Crystalline sink which, with a glossy safety glass cover available in black or white, provides extra counter space and can serve as a cutting board.
It is a simple yet brilliant way to hide dirty dishes or add an extra work area to smaller kitchens.
Kitchens are becoming more personalised, carrying more of an emotional charge, and the latest crop of introductions are just the tip of the iceberg.
The desire for freely configured, shareable environments that are bright and open to other areas of the home has not waned.
So for kitchens, new ways to demarcate the space and add some extra drama to the mix are being introduced by interesting, lively uses of unexpected materials, finishes and lighting.
Built-in ambient lighting and LEDs are becoming standard fare among couture kitchen designers because of their ability to deliver an emotion punch to the kitchen setting, and many of the latest introductions allow the kitchen to positively glow.
At EuroCucina, Italy's premier biannual kitchen fair, LED panels in different shapes were placed in different parts of the kitchen and employed as a new source of illumination.
However, more importantly, LEDs are proving a critical aesthetic component in contemporary designs and offer a new way to visually divide up the space into distinct functional areas.
"I take a minimalist approach in my kitchens, preferring to create a clean, striking surface that is punctuated by splashes of strong colour," says Karim Rashid of his new Kook kitchen for Aran Cucine.
"For Kook, I wanted to create an innovative design to turn even the most challenging culinary endeavours into pure aesthetic pleasure."
Rashid designed the cabinets to open and offer expansive views of the contents, but when the meal is done the cabinets close and transform to a minimal and uncluttered kitchen.
However, it is Rashid's use of LEDs that gives Kook (and also his new Karan kitchen for Aran) its dramatic ambience.
LEDs are arranged underneath the worktop, which highlights the magenta- coloured aluminium groove, and also inside the wall unit, which lights up the edge of the glass.
Rolling shutters open and reveal the LED-edged shelves and built-in hood above the hob, and the pressure-opened bottom cabinets are accented with colour LED strips and angled to allow an easy approach to the work surface.
Kook also features a sink that can be hidden by using a matching tray/cutting board to make a continuous surface.
Just as important, kitchen cabinet makers are offering solutions that can help streamline not only the cooking process but the surrounding areas as well.
"Today we are not only looking for perfect function, we also seek emotional enjoyment," explains Marc O Eckert from bulthaup.
"The times we live in call for new, flexible structures and systems - when it comes to our kitchens, too."
Thus bulthaup's latest scenarios for its b3 series make light work of the kitchen, allowing it to be reconfigured when needed.
The system offers a series of geometric structures that create functional and aesthetic order while still allowing homeowners to adapt it to their needs.
The genius of the system is that it transforms the walls above worktops by using flexible sliding elements to hold, organise and display.
When placed in drawers, these units can be intuitively used to store utensils.
A similar motif underlies haute Italian kitchen designer Valcucine's reworked New Logica System, which can be adapted for islands or against a wall.
The back section, available in stainless steel or aluminium, can contain and conceal, when necessary, all kitchen essentials such as dish-drainer, scales, small appliances, taps and even a cooker hood.
Each of the kitchen's various shelves, drawers and racks are placed within quick reach and are easily rearrangeable, and built-in lighting can be used while working or employed as a mood enhancer when the pull-down cabinets are closed.
Open shelves are gaining ground as homeowners are increasingly happy to leave things on display.
Displaying the best accessories or decor items also lends some personality to the kitchen, offering a visual variety and a lighter effect than traditional upper cabinets.
The choice of materials and finish of new kitchen designs continues to grow as well, making it easier to create a one-of-a-kind look.
EuroCucina showcases Europe's finest kitchen designers and this year it highlighted a preference towards dark and natural oaks, and the extensive use of unfinished woods with unrefined edges within a modern design setting.
Instead of the standard polished stones, surfaces are more textured, not only visually but to the touch as well.
From Snaidero comes a new reinterpretation of IDEA, a design originally produced in 1972.
It proposes a new form of minimalism, where colours, shapes, lines and structures are reduced down to the essential and the message IDEA 40 broadcasts is coherence, austerity, simplicity and aesthetic purism.
Again, integrated lighting, on the boiserie and under the wall units, makes the design a showstopper.
Snaidero also unveiled Board, designed by Pietro Arosio, who conceived the system to fit within a "dynamic, personal lifestyle".
It turns the kitchen into the hub of all home activities, interpreting it as both "shell" (intimate refuge) and "showcase" (easily transformed into a convivial area for socialising and entertaining).
The core area for food preparation, cooking and cleaning lives on a self-supporting structure that unfolds from the wall units, which are available in a wide range of colours.
Lighting again proves a key component and the unit rests on a luminous panel that can be adjusted to brighten surfaces with a uniform flow of light or generate more relaxed diffused cascade of light for ambient effects.
"A smart kitchen is by nature beautiful and elegant," Arosio says, "where beauty and elegance lie not just in the aesthetics of the design, but also in its moderation and the grace with which it adapts to different user requirements."
While neutral palettes and white will continue to be popular, more owners are including splashes of colour.
In fact, the kitchen is becoming a playground for the judicious use of colour, with vivid shades popping up in everything from knives and kitchen utensils to small electronics and major kitchen appliances.
"Colours are becoming more and more important and consumers are becoming ever more daring in this respect," says Lesley Go, a retail manager with Iittala.
Previously mostly seen in stainless steel and black, now coloured elements in shades of red, yellow, green, purple or orange have crept onto the scene.
On the stove, colour is also taking over, with pots and pans available in a wide variety of hues.
KitchenAid has unveiled a series of new kitchen gadgets, from electric choppers to toasters, all done up in glossy reds, lime greens and more.
Kohler just released the Colours series of kitchen sinks designed by American designer Jonathan Adler, which are available in vibrant shades such as Piccadilly yellow, Greenwich green and Palermo blue.
"It's the surprise factor that makes colour work," says Adler, who believes there is nothing better than a coloured sink to bring a kitchen to life.
"These colours work in just about any kitchen colour palette to add a little punch."
Everyone appears to be getting in on the act.
Electrolux Inspiration fridge freezers, which the company claims will keep fruit and vegetables fresh for up to a week longer, now come in glossy red, chocolate brown, lime green and ebony black stainless steel.
British-cooker manufacturer New World also has a new line called Colour, a series of built-in ovens that contrast black glass with a brightly coloured trim, available in metallic red, blue, green and purple, as well as the more traditional white, chrome, stainless steel and a full glass version in black.
"There is a deep-seated desire to give expression to feelings, emotions and one's own personality.
Hence, we want to present the new season's trends from the individual's point of view.
At the same time, however, there is a desire for wellbeing, for peace and quiet, which is reflected by a yearning for nature," says Claudia Herke from design consultants bora.herke.palmisano.
BlACK IS BACK
For a very polished look, designers are turning to black, the fashionable star in kitchen chic.
Appliances are less commercial looking and blend better into the overall look of the kitchen, for a far more sophisticated feel.
This is part of the growing trend towards open-plan kitchens, which are now reaching further into the living areas and therefore must look more and more like furniture pieces that add elegance to the home.
One major trend that cropped up at the European fairs was that many gas cooktops are now being featured not on stainless steel but shiny black glass, with Electrolux, KitchenAid, Franke and Smeg front and centre all week at EuroCucina.
Combining the easy clean-up of a glass surface with the power of a gas stove, these sleek, beautiful, gas-on-glass cooktops offer an air of refinement.
The current crop of kitchen designs fully embrace the flow of life and are designed with this in mind, so is it no surprise that when Brad Pitt, a self-proclaimed Modernist, outfitted his Los Angeles home's kitchen he went with an haute couture Italian kitchen by Snaidero.
"The last thing I bought for my house in Los Angeles is the Ola20 kitchen," he says.
"The kids, Angelina and me form a tribe, and it's easy to meet all together in the kitchen.
There's someone having a snack, someone listening to music, someone drawing, someone drinking fruit juice."
With the passing of each day, maybe more of us can live like the stars or at least dream of that perfect kitchen.
Alessi.com; tel: (04) 340 2933
Bosch-home.com; tel: (04) 803 0400
Bulthaup; tel: (04) 443 2615
Electrolux.co.uk; tel: (04) 330 9295
Elmarcucine.com; tel: (04) 399 0425 Gaggenau-onlineshowroom.com;
tel: (04) 334 9943
Gessi.it; tel: (04) 339 0760
Hacker.ae; tel: (04) 399 0425
Iittala.com; tel: (04) 340 0191
Kitchenaid.com; tel: (04) 231 0400
Kohler.com; tel: (04) 321 1330
Lg.com; tel: (04) 800 4741
Miele.ae; tel: (04) 399 0425
Samsung.com; tel: (04) 339 9607
Siemens-home.co.uk; tel: (04) 330 9295
Smeg.com; tel: (04) 330 9295
Snaidero.it; tel: (04) 282 0155
Subzero-wolf.com; tel: (04) 399 0425
Valcucine.com; tel: (04) 348 8140
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